UMD Looks to Continue Winning Ways After Most Successful Season In Program History
It may not look like it outside, but baseball season is starting up for the University of Minnesota Duluth. The UMD baseball team looks to back up its very good 2016 season with even better results.
Last season was a special one for the Bulldogs as it netted the most wins in program history with 39. The team made it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Regional tournament and looks to make it even further this year.
This is entirely possible due to the amount of letter winners returning to the team. The squad welcomes back 21 of them along with five starters. Grant Farley, Marco Lucarelli, and Matt Vogt were voted captains by their peers. The three of them combined for some impressive numbers slashing .334/.495/.411 in 2016. These three look to anchor a team that is trying to make it back to the NCAA tournament.
For the second year in a row, the Bulldogs opened their campaign in Pittsburg, Kansas to take on the Pittsburg State Gorillas. And for the second year in a row the trip resulted in a 1-3 record.
Despite the record, there were plenty of positives to come out of the four games. Run production was at a premium with the team averaging just over eight runs per contest. That is something that Coach Bob Rients and the rest of the team hopes to continue throughout the season.
UMD looks to reload its pitching staff as they lost their top three pitchers on the staff to graduation. The team will look to lean on senior Kevin Stocke to anchor a young pitching core. In addition to Stocke, junior Alex Ferguson and sophomore Ryan Cunningham will get significant innings as well. Ferguson and Cunningham posted a 3.55 and 3.86 era last season respectively, while Stocke led the three in innings pitched last season.
Over spring break next week the team will travel down to Auburndale, Florida to play six games against nonconference teams. One of these games will include a double header against No. 17 Grand Valley State.
It’ll be a while until the Bulldogs get a chance to play at home, but until then they will try to get some hard earned victories at neutral sites, including a trip to U.S. Bank Stadium on March 23 against in state rival Bemidji State.
Photo courtesy of Kayla Collins